The Day Zikora Died
It’s another December 10, and I can’t describe accurately how I feel. Am I supposed to cry? Am I supposed to scream? Should I be happy for their sake? I don’t know anymore. Two years ago today I was an SS3 student in boarding school waiting impatiently for my mom to send the driver to come take me home from the first term of the year. Two years ago, I got home, and before late afternoon, my entire world crashed into pieces around me. I remember my first day n JS1 at Loyola Jesuit College as clearly as yesterday, and and I remember the day the plane crashed equally clearly. We went to my aunt’s house to see my baby cousin, then suddenly, a phone call, and my Mom burst into tears.
I hate to see my mother cry. It breaks my heart. But the way she cried that day chilled me to the bone. We began calling frantically. First Angela, then Pea, then Patrick, then everyone. No one was picking up their phone. Finally, I called Zikora. His name was always last in my phone book by virtue of its first letter. The call didn’t even go through. I blamed MTN. I’ve always thought their service was crappy anyway. All over Abuja, people switched on their television sets, hoping to catch some word of what was happening in Port Harcourt, but bloody NTA was showing soccer. I will never forgive them for that. Not if I live to be a million years old. AIT was the only channel that broadcast a glimpse of Port Harcourt airport, and then they were shut down.
That’s when the rumours started filtering in. A plane had crashed. No one knew what airline. Many had died. All had survived. There were no survivors. Next came the confirmations. It was a Sosoliso plane, it was carrying mostly children, students from Loyola Jesuit College, there were almost no survivors. I swear, it still feels like a dream to me. I’m hoping to wake up, aren’t you? I’d come home from Loyola just a few hours ago. It couldn’t be them anyway, we always went by first flight, and this crash had happened just after noon. Then I got a grim bit of news. The first flight had been canceled, and Sosoliso had merged it with the next flight.
That was precisely the moment when my heart began to race. Still no word from anyone. Then at 6pm or thereabout, Angela called. I think my Mom was even more relieved than I was to hear her, then we started a head count of sorts. Where was Pea? She was at home in Lagos. Where were Rekiya and Patrick? Lagos too. Where was Yimi? She was there with Angela. Great, great, it was going just great. Where was Zikora?…..Silence….. Where was Zikora?
“He’s gone.” She almost whispered.
And I, who had not felt afraid or cried that entire day, began to scream in sharp, ear-splitting bursts. My heart broke. I felt like something was clawing away at my soul. It was agony to hear her say the words, and they kept echoing in my head and ringing in my ears. I would have given anything for her to unsay those words, but that power is not hers to use.
I’m sorry. I’m crying as I type this, and in the beginning I didn’t know if I was supposed to cry. I guess I am. My body still knows what it feels even though my mind is numb. I can’t do this anymore. It hurts. I’m sorry. I can’t type anymore.